New Zealand Schools Attendance Survey: Term 2, 2019

Publication Details

Student attendance data is published annually as part of a series of attendance information the Ministry of Education publishes. The report provides a picture of attendance in New Zealand schools to help schools, Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako and other sector representatives understand patterns of attendance and how these can affect a student’s achievement and wellbeing.

This report looks at data generated by the 2019 Attendance Survey taken during Term 2, between the end of April and the beginning of July. It is a voluntary survey run across primary and secondary schools.

Author(s): Ministry of Education.

Date Published: February 2020


Regular attendance of New Zealand students fell in 2019. Data from the 2019 Term 2 Attendance Survey shows 58% of students attended school regularly (64% in 2018). Regular attendance rates have been declining since 2015 with more students falling into the ‘irregular’ or ‘moderate’ absence brackets. This persistent trend suggests that there is a systemic (rather than one-off) driver.

Key findings

  • The average daily attendance rate of students declined to 88.6% of available half days in 2019 (90.1% in 2018). Justified absence rates increased to 6.7% (5.7% in 2018) and unjustified absence rates increased to 4.7% (4.3% in 2018).
  • During the final week in Term 2 average attendance rates showed a marked decline. Being absent from school by just 5 days (10 half days) across the term will cause a student to fall from ‘regular’ attendance to ‘irregular’ attendance.
  • Three quarters of justified absence cases were reportedly due to illness. Just over half of unjustified absence cases were recorded truancies or unable to be explained.
  • Regular student attendance declined to 58%, down 6 percentage points (pp) following a brief period of stability in 2018 (64%). This means that around 40% of all students did not attend more than 90% of their available class time.
  • Since 2015 regular attendance rates have declined by 11pp, with irregular absence rates increasing by 6pp, moderate and chronic absence rates increasing by approximately 3pp.
  • Although regular attendance has declined across all demographics since 2015, the largest declines have been seen across year levels 1-8 and among Maori and Pacific students.


  1. Students attending school for more than 90% of available half-days.
  2. 2015 Regular attendance was 70%.
  3. Refer ‘Background, page 2’ for categories of student attendance.
  4. A half-day can either be the minimum two hours before, or after, noon contributing to the minimum four hours of a school day.
  5. Average daily attendance translates into the likelihood a student will be present in the classroom over the course of the term. On average, students attended 88.6% of available half days during term 2.
  6. Percentage point is the difference of two percentages.

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